What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is the most extreme stage of alcohol addiction and is reached when an individual has lost the ability to control their drinking habits. Sometimes referred to as alcohol abuse disorder, alcohol addiction at any stage can be extremely harmful to a person’s health, life, responsibilities, and relationships. As time goes on, it can get increasingly difficult to for the individual to remain functional day to day, either because they’re obsessing over consuming alcohol or they’re suffering from the side effects of alcoholism.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
Common signs of alcoholism include:
- Spending significant amounts of money on alcohol
- Feeling the need to consume larger quantities of alcohol more often
- Behavior changes after drinking
- Inability to control your alcohol consumption
- Strong alcohol cravings when you’re not drinking
- Prioritizing alcohol over personal responsibilities and other activities
Alcohol the #1 Gateway Substance in the U.S.
According to AmericaAddictionCenters.org, alcohol is the number 1 gateway substance in the U.S. with nearly 66% of those surveyed listing alcohol as the first substance they abused. Overall, alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are the top three gateway substances, but alcohol tends to open up opportunities that encourage substance abuse behaviors.
Alcohol is also the most commonly tried substance by high schoolers. Considering the known correlation between the age at which an individual starts experimenting with substances and their odds of abusing drugs and alcohol later in life, even mild alcohol abuse shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Seeking Treatment for Alcohol Addiction and Dependency
Deciding to seek alcohol addiction treatment is the first, and often the hardest, step towards recovery. But it can also be challenging to find an effective rehab treatment center that can provide the types of treatment that best suits your unique situation. It can be especially difficult for recovering alcoholics to “stay on the wagon” given how readily available alcohol is all over the country. And dual diagnosis patients —those suffering from both an addiction and an additional mental or behavioral health disorder— need a different approach to treatment altogether compared to patients only suffering from alcoholism.
Thankfully, there are many different types of alcohol treatment centers available throughout the U.S., and some even specialize in treating a particular disorder, such as alcoholism. To learn what types of detox treatment are available to you, call us today. Addiction Treatment Services will review your insurance and help pair you with an alcohol addiction recovery center equipped to help you reach your sobriety goals.
It’s not uncommon for an alcoholic to have a warped perception of their addiction. Sometimes they’re in full blown denial about their problem or they’ve convinced themselves that it’s “not that bad”. No matter an individual falls on this spectrum, an intervention is likely needed.
Since alcohol is a completely legal substance, it is often much harder for alcoholics to see their substance abuse issues for themselves and can even make it harder to convince them that they need help. In these situations, staging a successful intervention without professional aid can be extremely difficult.
The potential blow ups and pitfalls that could rise up during an intervention may be too intense for you to handle on your own, but a seasoned intervention specialist will have the knowledge and experience to help smooth over conflicts and keep the intervention running smoothly.
If you’re considering staging an intervention for a loved one, we can help you find an intervention specialist to assist you.
Types of Addiction Treatments Available/Alcohol Addiction Treatment Options
The most important first step when approaching addiction recovery is getting the abused substance out of the addict’s system. By detoxifying the body, rehab treatment can continue in a more controlled fashion.
Unfortunately, detoxification can be lethal, especially with alcohol addiction, if done improperly. Self-detox is extremely dangerous and highly discouraged by medical professionals. A medically supervised or aided detox program is the safest way to undergo detox treatment. In some cases, medically assisted detox is also an option, which combines a supervised detox program with medications that help control withdrawal symptoms in the patient.
Some of the medications commonly used to assist alcohol detox include:
- Acamprosate (Reduces alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms)
- Naltrexone – (Reduces cravings and the pleasurable side effects of alcohol usage)
- Disulfiram – (Causes negative effects when alcohol is consumed instead of positive or “rewarding” effects)
A medically supervised detox program is usually necessary for alcohol addictions, in part because the withdrawal symptoms for alcohol can be severe. Some alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Mood Swings
- Increased Heart Rate
- Headaches or Migraines
Inpatient rehab is one of the most commonly recommended types of rehab treatment. Inpatient and residential addiction recovery centers involve checking into a facility, where the patient will remain for the duration of their treatment — typically 30, 60, or 90 days. While at the inpatient treatment center, patients have access to medical professionals and care specialists 24/7, on-site therapy programs, counseling sessions, and other activities to help them while they receive treatment.
Inpatient rehab also has the benefit of removing the individual from familiar places or situations that would make it easier for them to fall back into unhealthy habits.
With how common Dual Diagnosis is, the rehab treatment sector of the medical field has thankfully started to put a lot more weight into the mental health side of addiction recovery. This means more rehab treatment centers are versed in dual diagnosis treatment and that some centers are specifically designed to treat dual diagnosis patients.
Many alcoholics also suffer from depression or anxiety, making them dual diagnosis patients. Alcohol tends to be used as “self-medication”, and many mental health disorders tend to encourage addictive behaviors. Sometimes alcoholism can even cause mental health disorders that the patient may not have suffered from before their addiction — alcohol abuse is truly that interwoven with mental health.
The good news is that dual diagnosis treatment is significantly more effective at treating both sides of a patient’s health issues by treating them simultaneously, as opposed to the separate approach often used by healthcare professionals in the past. By focusing efforts between the physical and behavioral problems (addiction) and the psychological strains (depression, anxiety, etc.), addiction recovery treatment efforts have a higher chance of leading to successful long-term sobriety.
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the country, in part because it can be chronic as well as situational, and can be triggered by a variety of factors. Whether depression has lead to or been caused by addiction, alcohol is a frequently sought after substance for sufferers, since it can block out overwhelming sadness, despair, loneliness, etc. For some, alcohol actually worsens their suffering, which can lead to other substance abuse issues, but over time, alcohol will greatly worsen depression symptoms.
Anxiety, like Depression, is extremely common. Most people suffer from some form of anxiety during their life. Since alcohol is a “downer”, it can be an especially attractive substance to those suffering from anxiety or an anxiety disorder, since it can force their bodies and minds to relax for a period of time or distract them from intrusive thoughts and worries. This is especially true in social situations, where alcohol can be used to dampen social anxiety and make an individual feel false confidence in social situations as a result, so long as they have alcohol.
Unfortunately, just like with Depression, alcohol can make anxiety decidedly worse over time, especially since decisions made under the influence can put users in high anxiety situations they wouldn’t have otherwise been in.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Roughly 25% of those suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder also struggle with alcohol abuse and addiction. Since OCD is an anxiety disorder, alcohol is attractive for the same reasons – temporary distraction and forced relaxation. And like other anxiety disorders, alcohol abuse tends to make OCD symptoms worsen over time, which can lead to a vicious cycle that worsens the patient’s alcohol addiction and mental health.
Alcohol abuse (and addiction issues in general) are common with those suffering from Bipolar Disorder. Alcohol is the most frequently abused substance amongst Bipolar Patients with over 50% of Bipolar I and Bipolar II patients abusing alcohol at some point in their lives. The cyclical nature of Bipolar disorder means that patients may be attracted to alcohol during certain parts of their mood cycles, such as their mania phase, while other illicit substances may be more commonly used in other phases. Regardless, alcohol abuse is dangerous at any phase, although it can be more so during a mania phase due to the increased risk of reckless behavior and decision making.
Eating Disorders like Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa can both be caused by and a result of substance abuse and addiction. Nearly 50% of those with an eating disorder abuse alcohol and illicit drugs at some point in their life, which is five times higher than the general public, putting them at an increased risk of addiction. Individuals with eating disorders are 11 times more likely to suffer from addiction that the average person, as well.
Dual Diagnosis treatment is the best approach for anyone suffering from a mental health disorder and an addiction, but it is especially necessary when the patient is also battling an eating disorder of some kind.
Outpatient rehab treatment often occurs after some degree of inpatient treatment and allows patients to go back to their normal lives to some degree. There are many outpatient programs that start out with daily meetings for weeks, then taper off as the individual progresses through their recovery. Outpatient programs are usually less intensive than inpatient programs and aren’t as disruptive to a work or school schedule.
However, outpatient treatment is rarely the first step. If your alcohol addiction is severe, starting with outpatient treatment could be a waste of time, since it can be incredibly difficult to stay on track in the early stages. Detox and inpatient treatment should be the first two steps for most recovery seekers.
Sober Living and Life After Rehab
Once rehab treatment is completed, there are many different ways for newly sober patients to ease back into their normal lives while lessening their odds of relapse. Knowing your triggers and stringently avoiding them is important, but so is being assertive about limiting your exposure to substances as readily available as alcohol.
It can be very difficult to stay sober, especially since alcohol is such a widely used and “social” substance. Taking care of yourself after rehab could mean that you don’t go into bars anymore, just in case. It could mean going to a different convenience store if the one nearest to you sells alcohol. It’s important to know your own limits and not to push yourself too hard, especially in your few months of being sober, but there are also tons of resources available to help you.
Most rehab centers have “Life After Rehab” programs for their alumni. These could include weekly, biweekly, or monthly therapy or counseling sessions to help you stay on track, or a variety of other methods of continued support. Either way, there are plenty of post-rehab support programs available should you choose to enroll in one.
Find the Alcohol Addiction Treatment You Need Today
Trying to find alcohol addiction treatment that’s best suited for your unique situation can be difficult. Don’t struggle to find your treatment alone. Addiction Treatment Services can help match you with the addiction treatment center best suited to help you reach your sobriety goals. Ready to get started finding treatment for yourself or a loved one? Then give us a call today. Our specialists ready and waiting to help you 24/7 for your convenience.